Was Elliott Abrams Hitler’s Senior Advisor?

Probably not: Abrams was born 2.5 years after Hitler died. But then again, who knows. At any rate, putting the two in one line, in one headline, is contagious: when you now Google "Abrams and Hitler" you get results. As many results as this column is posted or quoted. That’s the power of association: all you have to do is put two things next to each other. Not many people would bother to ask why, or check your reasoning. Abrams and Hitler? There must be some reason for them to be side-by-side. They must have something in common.

Abrams knows this very well. The Jewish-American lawyer and policy analyst who served in foreign policy positions under Reagan and George W. Bush, currently a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, cannot claim innocence nor ignorance. He knows the Middle East better than many others. So when he says the Palestinian State "would be the first to officially prohibit Jews or any other faith since Nazi Germany, which sought a country that was judenrein, or cleansed of Jews," Abrams knows what he is doing. And what he is doing is much dirtier than the manipulative title I gave this column.

Abram’s malicious demagoguery was triggered by the words of Palestinian ambassador to the US Maen Erekat, quoted saying that "after the experience of the last 44 years of military occupation and all the conflict and friction, I think it would be in the best interest of the two peoples to be separated." That’s what Erekat said; he didn’t say no Jews would be allowed into Palestine; he didn’t say all Jews would be butchered and their corpses sliced and pickled; he didn’t say all Jews would be annihilated or gassed. He just said it would be in the interest of the two peoples to be separated.

Now this, of course, is a despicable vision. Separation between the two peoples? Is this not a form of racist discrimination, of ethnic cleansing, of Apartheid? Perhaps it is. But it also happened to be the slogan of Israel’s Defense Minister Barak: "Separation, We are Here, They are There." It happened to be the incarnation of mainstream Zionism, claiming it’s the interest of Jews to live separately from non-Jews. Israelis who oppose this separation nowadays are branded as anti-Zionist and traitors. But don’t confuse Abrams with facts, truth or honesty: Abrams is a demagogue.

Abrams knows very well what Erekat meant. Erekat meant that after 44 years of cruel, ruthless military occupation (oops – "cruel, ruthless" are my words, Erekat didn’t say that), when every Palestinian man, woman and child meets Jews daily as settlers who demand "Arabs" (no settler uses the term "Palestinians") be deported; or as kind and pleasant settlers who feel sympathy for "Arabs" while stealing their land and drinking their water; or as cruel thuggish soldiers who knock on their door in the middle of the night and destroy everything (this is called "searching" in military jargon); or as nice and polite soldiers who stand at the checkpoint, gently aim a machine-gun at the Palestinians and tell them they cannot go to the next village, or to school, or to pray in their mosque in Jerusalem – after 44 years of such a cruel, ruthless occupation, Erekat meant to say, it makes no sense to leave settlers within the Palestinian State. That’s all he meant to say and that’s all he said. And you know what? he’s right. If you had known the settlers, or some of them, or the occupation soldiers, all of them, you would have understood him. In fact, as some of my Jewish-Israeli friends say, the nightmare about dismantling settlements is that the settlers would come to live with us, in Israel. Who wants these zealots back here? (Perhaps that’s what Erekat is worried about: that Israel would dump its colonialists on Palestinian soil.)

But Abrams has another interpretation. For Abrams, Erekat’s words express "a despicable form of anti-Semitism." And "the first country since Nazi Germany" to ban Jews. If this is not a desecration of the Holocaust, I wonder what it is: as if the Jewish minority occupied Germany for 44 years and terrorized millions of Germans like the Israelis have been doing in the Palestinian territories.

"No civilized country would act this way," Abrams added. Sure thing. In fact there is one country that does act this way, civilized or otherwise. Abrams knows it very well. I don’t mean "separation serving the interests of both peoples," as Erekat suggested: there is one country which is really judenrein or clean of Jews just like Nazi Germany wanted to be. Every Middle East expert knows that, and Abrams is not just an expert: he presents himself as "Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies." Perhaps this "senior fellow" should consult Wikipedia from time to time. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say:

    There is virtually no Jewish activity in Saudi Arabia in the beginning of the 21st century. Jewish (as well as Christian and other non-Muslim) religious services are prohibited from being held on Saudi Arabian soil. When American military personnel were stationed in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War (…) Jewish services were only permitted on US warships. Census data does not identify any Jews as residing within Saudi Arabian territory. Persons (…) who are openly Jewish are generally not permitted into the Kingdom.

Again: that’s not what Erekat suggested. He did not suggest prohibiting Jewish religious services, nor prohibiting "openly Jewish" persons from entering Palestine. All he said was that it was better for both peoples to live separately. If this turns Palestine into the new Nazi Germany, what’s Saudi Arabia? The Mother of all Nazi Germanies? The Devil Incarnated? Perhaps it is – who am I to say? I haven’t even been there (not allowed to, sorry). But perhaps Abrams knows? After all, Abrams is reported to have met several times with Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the former Saudi Arabian ambassador to Washington.

Now you may wonder: how can that be true? How can Abrams, who finds a moderate call for separation between Palestinians and Israelis a despicable anti-Semitic manifesto unprecedented since Nazi Germany, how can this idealistic person meet several times an official representative of a state that officially prohibits Jews from entering its borders, where even Jewish-American soldiers (stationed there to defend the backward — but US-friendly — dictatorship) have to hide their identity and carry false "Protestant ID cards" for a rainy day?

Well, you’ll have to ask Abrams about that. If you meet him, take a look at his impressive watch –  $1,435 worth Concord Mariner, a friendly gift that Abrams received from Abdullah, the King of Saudi Arabia.

While you are at it, do ask him if he didn’t happen to be Hitler’s close advisor after all. You never know.

Author: Ran HaCohen

Dr. Ran HaCohen was born in the Netherlands in 1964 and grew up in Israel. He has a B.A. in computer science, an M.A. in comparative literature, and a Ph.D. in Jewish studies. He is a university teacher in Israel. He also works as a literary translator (from German, English, and Dutch). HaCohen's work has been published widely in Israel. "Letter From Israel" appears occasionally at Antiwar.com.